Wilkinson County election contest restarts

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WOODVILLE — After months of stop-and-start legal momentum, the Wilkinson County election contest started again — at least temporarily — Monday.

The contest will resume at 9 a.m. today, and an examination of the election’s ballot boxes is planned.

After nearly two hours on the stand, Wilkinson County Circuit Clerk Mon Cree Allen seemed willing to give only one answer: “I plead the fifth,” which was often shortened to simply “fifth.”

Pleading the fifth amendment allows witnesses to avoid self-incrimination.

Wrangling with attorneys from both sides to set future court dates, Judge Jim Persons said everybody involved was frustrated with the length of the case.

“I have never seen an election contest like this,” he said.

The validity of the Wilkinson County Democratic primary election in August has been called into question since it was held.

A simple majority of the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive Committee tossed out all of the absentee, affadavit and curbside ballots in September after hearing allegations of widespread fraud from three non-incumbent candidates, Kirk Smith, Jesse Stewart and Jeanette “Lynn” Tolliver.

The ballot toss changed the election results from wins for District 2 Supervisor Richard Hollins, Sheriff Reginald “Pip” Jackson and Allen to the non-incumbents.

The two sides have spent the ensuing months trading legal potshots at each other.

Among the questions Allen pleaded the fifth to were:

4Did you know that one of the poll workers in the Aug. 7 election was a convicted felon?

4Is it true you had a pre-election party that voting machines were taken to?

4Do you claim this election in which you were a candidate and an election officer was honestly and fairly held?

4Do you have any personal knowledge of anyone who paid anyone to vote for you?

Attorney Carol Rhodes, representing one of the incumbents, called the allegations “ludicrous.”